"Sometimes I tried to get over the hump..." Taylor Townsend emotionally said after her win over Simona Halep in the Ashe Stadium at the Open. She couldn't stop wiping the tears from her eyes that many days might have been over a lost match, but not today.
Halep won the first set 6-2, in the traditional Halep style orchestrating her down-the-lines and opening up the court to blast out winners. It was Taylor Townsend's feel of motivation and sticking to her game mantra that resulted in her winning the second set at 6-3.
She used her volleying effectively to gobble up points on Halep who didn't seem quite prepared for the strategies. Townsend's predictability of the Romanian's shots was 'on point' and it didn't take her long to accumulate wins by smashing, pushing Halep back, finding open courts and she'd aim for big targets and have victories on them.
The two had met at last year's Roland Garros where there was a role reversal of Halep takng the helm and having the last word on most rallies despite Townsend putting on a good display of strategies and long rallies, but coming up short with many unforced errors.
The first time they met was at the 2017 Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati where Halep won in straight sets. It was at Roland Garros where Townsend started to up her level of play but at important points would start spreading out with unforced errors losing also in straight sets to Halep.
But it was at this last grand slam of the season, the 2019 U.S. Open that Townsend did a turn around. She'd win all of her qualifying rounds and the opening in straight sets against Kateryna Kozlova of the Ukraine. Townsend must have felt that she would have to bring her 'A' game to Simona Halep now who's ranked no.
4 and winner of six WTA titles to her resume or she'd be difficult to defeat. The two had split sets and in the deciding one created an 'all out battle' of a performance. Halep was closing in for the victory at 5-4 but couldn't come up wth the pattern of strategies to dismantle Townsend and win the match.
Townsend had predicted most of Halep's moves and used what worked well and it was her volley game that brought the last set to a boil. The Romanian lead 6-5, but it was Townsend's will and determination to push the match to a tiebreak.
She did it very well and Halep's game from the first set of spunk and aggression had turned to being ineffective and lackluster, a performance that Townsend turned into her own. It wasn't long before the no. 93 ranked had won the match on a netted return by Halep and held up her hands in exaltation over her final win over Simona Halep of their last 3 meets.
The Chicago-native had came up to net nearly 100 times in the match, a strategy that seemed easy and worked for her well. Halep gave kudos saying it was a great game and that "she came a lot to the net and didn't miss much so it's unbelievable."
She also talked about her own shortcomings in the match saying that "my return was weak because I couldn't feel the rhythm of a lefty...the ball was moving too much and I couldn't have the feeling, the touch.
I played a little bit wrong tactic. Maybe I should have it more lobs when she was coming and she was close to the net..." But when all was said and done, Townsend this time was the stronger, effective one and when she had her chances, she turned them into victories and won the match.
This was to prove a boost for her confidence and strategy levels that bringing her 'A' game may be more consistent and successful for Taylor Townsend in the present and future.